The woman who rammed a security barrier at the White House with her van was armed with a pistol, according to police records, and she had been arrested for trying to climb the White House fence twice in 2017.
U.S. Secret Service officers took 35-year-old Jessica Ford of La Vergne, Tennessee, into custody about 3 p.m. after she struck the pop-up barrier near the White House, at 17th and E streets, the Secret Service said.
No shots were fired and no one in law enforcement was injured in the incident, the Secret Service said, but a witness said he heard what he thought sounded like gunshots.
"After she hit the barricade, she just kept pressing on the gas and trying to push through, I guess," Chris Bello said. "That's what it looked like. And then they ordered her to stop, and they fire because she wouldn't stop."
Woman Rams Van Into Barrier at White House
He said it sounded like two or three shots.
It appears officers may have used something to smash the van's windows, possibly to get Ford out of the vehicle.
"I heard like a firecracker," witness Kimberlie Flauto said. "It didn't sound like a crash or anything and then I turned around and saw all the smoke and as soon as I saw all the smoke. And all the police were starting to pile out the back of the White House and from across the street. And then everybody's just screaming, 'Go, go!' and that's when I told all the kids, Go.'"
According to a police report, an officer saw a gun in Ford's hand before she was taken out of the van. The weapon was pointed in the opposite direction of the officers, and Ford ignored multiple commands from officers to drop the gun. Two officers had to take the gun from her hands before forcibly removing her from the van, the report said.
Officers arrested Ford and charged her with unlawful entry, carrying a pistol without a license, unregistered firearm, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon-car, destruction of government property and contempt of court.
Records state that while officers were taking Ford to jail she said "she had the 'BB gun' because if James Burris was the president the officers would shoot her to protect him and that she knowingly brought the gun with her."
A law enforcement official said the Secret Service knows Ford because she's been around the White House before. She's believed to have mental or emotional issues.
On May 17, 2017, Ford was caught scaling the White House fence. She was rearrested July 6 when she violated a stay-away order at the White House.
Ford was again charged with several criminal violations and taken to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The White House was locked down but concern about the incident was low, NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams reported. Secret Service and George Washington University police officers blocked off the area.
Operations at the White House returned to normal before 6 p.m.
President Donald Trump had just met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House.
"Thank you to the great men and women of the United States @SecretService for a job well done!" the president tweeted.
The News4 I-Team has reported more than 20 White House security breaches in the past four years. Many of them involve people with mental or emotional issues, and many of them try to do it again.